About This Booklet
Booklet 2 of 6 in the Knowing God series. In this teaching, Martha explores our contorted views of power and our desperate struggle to possess illegitimate power.
What happens when we refute God’s eternal power?
We’re born thinking we’re supposed to have the power to do God’s will, that we have the power to be good and to please Him. But when humanity decided to be like God and take care of itself, we actually forfeited the eternal power of God to operate on our behalf.
“Thinking she could own the power of knowledge within herself, Eve became independent of her God. She didn’t have to listen, wait or lean. She didn’t have to need God. She immediately used her ‘I know’ as the power of knowledge by exerting control over Adam, an influence he accepted and for which God held the man accountable (Gen. 3:17).
“But Adam and Eve did NOT possess the knowledge of good and evil, because what they now believed to be good (independence of God) was evil, and what they believed to be evil (dependence on God) was good.
Proverbs 14:12 ESV
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
“So in came the Lie that power could reside in man, and he could live without needing God.”
In Eternal Power, Martha explores our contorted views of power, our desperate struggle to possess illegitimate power, and the key to accessing God’s eternal power for every aspect of our lives.
“God does not mix His eternal power with our illegitimate power.”
The other aspect man refutes is what Romans calls: His “eternal power.” Man refuses to acknowledge both: God’s divine nature, and His eternal power. Let’s go back to Eden again and see what Satan did to pervert our belief in God’s eternal power. Remember that behind the outward temptation is a diabolical mind. Satan suggests something that causes you to come to a conclusion.
If you buy the suggestion…you arrive at the conclusion.
Satan said, “God has withheld something from you that you need” (Gen. 3:5). Conclusion: God is not good. Then he said to Eve, “God knows that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5). Here was the diabolical inference: Power is in knowledge and you should have that power…in you. Power shouldn’t belong only to God! Knowledge shouldn’t belong to God! It should reside in you so that—you can have the knowledge within you. Conclusion: you don’t need God!
“Eve, you can have the power of knowledge within you, and it will give you the power to live without God. Take it! Live by knowledge…and you can be like God.” But of course it was a lie. Satan tricked her.
Thinking she could own the power of knowledge within herself, Eve became independent of her God. She didn’t have to listen, wait or lean. She didn’t have to need God. She immediately used her “I know” as the power of knowledge by exerting control over Adam, an influence he accepted and for which God held the man accountable (Genesis 3:17).
But Adam and Eve did not possess the knowledge of good and evil—because what they now believed to be good (Independence of God) was evil and what they believed to be evil (dependence) was good.
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
So in came the Lie that power could reside in man, and he could live without needing God.
We will consent to know Him. We will even consent to follow Him—but we will set our teeth against needing Him.
We do not want to be destitute. We do not want to be in poverty and emptiness and…need God!
Satan took from Eve her dependence on God’s power by tempting her to usurp power and have it reside in herself. We are born with this idea then, that we are supposed to have the power to be good. We think we are supposed to have the power to do God’s will, and we live believing that power is in us to please Him—to do His will, to do it right—to do everything right.
Satan tempted Eve to use illegitimate power. Satan has been given power. He has had power. Christ has rendered his power, powerless—but when you live independently, what you are partaking of is…Satan’s power.
The power that Satan gave Eve was the power of the intellect: to think brilliantly and logically into the error of the wrong conclusion. It was also to use the power of thought to exercise control over other people—whether by persuasion or with soulish powers. These are real powers; they are not fake!
Watchman Nee has written about this in his book, The Latent Power of the Soul. In that book he teaches that there is a power in the soul that can be used to control events and people. Watchman Nee learned it deeply and experientially when he was ill with tuberculosis and could not get healed.
God showed him that he had to stand against the soulish prayers of people. And do you know what that is? That’s a prayer that proceeds out of self!
The question is not whether the thing that I pray for is right or wrong—it is ‘where does it come from?’ What is its source? And a prayer that comes from what I think should be and what I think you should do is soulish.
God must tell us what needs to be! You see, it is independent to think you know! You might sometimes be exactly right, but nevertheless the Only One who really knows about everything is God.
If you live in your intellect, you are going to be living in soulish power.
First John 2:16 calls it, “the lust of mind.” David wrote something interesting in Psalm 62:11 (ESV). He said, “Once God has spoken, twice I have heard this, that power belongs to God.” With all our being we want to serve God without needing anything from Him.
I believe God’s original intent was to create man with total free choice but also total dependence on Him. I suspect that His plan was such that when He took care of man, man would love Him for taking care of him.
That’s what Satan wrecked when he tempted Eve to possess the power in herself—to take care of herself. And any time we try to take care of ourselves, we are in denial of God’s right to that power—because only God can take care of us.
Only God has the ability to make our lives meaningful…and right. When humanity decided to be like God and take care of itself, we forfeited the power of God to operate in our behalf.
Nee talks about soulish power but there is another level of the usurping of power, and it is evil power. It literally means you are using Satan’s demonic power. You want a thing so badly that you are, perhaps unknowingly but certainly not without intent, cooperating with Satan, and being his instrument.
The New Testament forbids us to use certain powers independently—that is, by our own initiative or for self-protection. For example, Jesus said,
Matthew 5:34-37, paraphrased
“Don’t use the power of taking an oath. Just say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
In other words, don’t try to impress or manipulate people by commitments you make, that in reality, you have no power to uphold.
Jesus also forbade us to use the power of law for self-serving ends. He said, “You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.'” Where had His listeners heard that? In the Law of Moses. He went on to say:
Matthew 5:39-41 NKJV
“But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” “If anyone wants to sue you and take your (shirt), let him have your (coat) also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”
That passage has given me much grief. It is hard to live out – in fact, it is impossible to our human nature. And that is the point: it exposes that nature, the nature in all of us that wants control! God reserves for Himself, and denies us use of, the powers of revenge, vindication, self-protection, and defense. Those powers belong to God. I cannot pick them up and be blessed.
I am not suggesting that we let ourselves be abused, but I am suggesting that we must be led of His Spirit. I cannot handle those powers. For whatever reason I might be tempted to pick them up, I will be seduced by them and find myself in a far greater trap.
But if I abdicate the use of those powers, then God’s power will operate in my defense. I know this by living. I have seen it mightily. God will use His power for you and lead you carefully—but if you use illegitimate power, you are on your own! Just like you wanted to be. You’re on your own!
God does not mix His power with our illegitimate power.
He waits until you have exhausted your faith in your own ability, and when you have done that, then He will come through.
Coming under authority is the greatest test of the abdication of power. Of course, all real authority is from God and it is with Him we deal and obey in matters of submission. Our submission is to Him alone.
Joseph and Daniel are our examples. You see, when you use your own power, you destroy your faith in God’s power—and you no longer believe in His eternal power.When you use these illegitimate powers, you destroy your faith in God’s power because you are not going to be seeing it! You are in your own power and God is not going to support that. So you will not believe in His power, because it won’t be there. You forfeit God’s power!
God is viewed as weak by one who abuses power. “I will do it.” To come under authority, you have to give up—to God—your right of power and you will never be under authority until you do that.
There is no such thing as being under authority without giving up your power to save yourself and protect yourself.
And that is why so few do it in reality. Authority can be defined as those on earth who carry God’s government. To come under authority, you have to abdicate the powers of survival that you have picked up, including…the power to think that you know best.
As long as you think you know how your authority should rule over you, you are not under authority. “If you tell me how to lead, then you are the leader. Until you let me lead by my God-given definition, I’m not the leader!” If you think you know how your authority should be, you have not submitted because you have to give up the power to know, or to think you know, how your authority should be.
When you judge a God-ordained authority for how he rules—that is rebellion, not submission. Submission means relinquishing the power of self-determination, self-protection, and selfish ambitions and… giving these to God! And we hate to give up those things. We hate to!
But, you know, when Mark 8:35 says that you have to “lose your life to find it,” the literal meaning in the Greek is: “You have to lose your soulish life in order to find your spiritual life.” You have to lose the powers of the soul!
What Jesus is talking about is the independent, human powers of the soul. They have to go!
Matthew 18:1-3 AMP
At that time the disciples came up and asked Jesus, “Who then is (really) the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
And He called a little child and put him in the midst of them, and said: “Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children…you can never enter the kingdom of heaven (at all).”
Do you hear the disciples’ lust for power? They asked, “Who is the greatest?” but what they meant was: “I want to be it!”
Jesus replied, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter,” much less be the greatest! A little child has: no knowledge, no power, no capacity, no independence, no survival skills, no defenses.
My husband and I have grandchildren, and we have just been wrenched by the vulnerability of a child. When we had our own children, we didn’t see it as clearly. A child is so completely, totally vulnerable.
I am referring to a little child, before they have learned to deceive and manipulate, like we all do. We just do it naturally.
This is what Jesus meant: You must change and become vulnerable—powerless, nothing, so that Christ can be everything. I tell you, the pain of sin is great, but the pain of being nothing is excruciating because it kills every semblance of pride (pride being independence). We must change and become like that, and then only will we even enter the kingdom.
I have always wanted to know and live in the kingdom. I have always prayed over that. God has been faithful to show me what it takes to get in.
We think surrender is, “I’ll do what You tell me to do.” Can I tell you, that is not necessarily surrender? “God, You tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” That is not surrender. That is saying, “I can do it!”
We think surrender is saying, “I’ll serve You or I’ll proclaim You. I’ll do what You want me to do.” No, that is not surrender.
We think surrender is a partnership—God and me. No, this is a picture of surrender:
When Japan surrendered to the United States after World War II, they brought all their weapons. First they had a ceremony where the leaders of Japan sat down and handed over their swords and weapons and flag. Then they had an agreement, but the Japanese had no say in the agreement. They signed whatever the American Army imposed on them. They had to accept it. Then they surrendered all the weapons of the country. They surrendered all the ruling places and military places of the country. They surrendered everything: no escape, no rights, no say, no governing power, no power to war any more, no power to come and go as they pleased.
That is surrender! To give up absolute power over yourself, your destiny, your life, your possessions, your abilities, even your dreams…that is surrender. I have known people who would literally, I believe, cut off their hand for God, but who would NOT give up their power! Do you understand?
It is possible to be magnificently sacrificial, but:
- never give up your right to yourself,
- never give up your independence to God,
- never give up your power over man or over matter, to do as you please